By Dan Shea
Ah, Summertime, when a young man’s thoughts turn to machine gun shoots. Warm, balmy weekends spent pouring a week’s paycheck downrange with friends, piling up the brass, lacerating assorted sand pit targets. Fixing guns, shooting old and new machine guns. Showing off new acquisitions. Others are out, driving their odd military vehicles around, gathering with like minded folk, setting up reenactment camps and events.
There will be Brass Maxim shoots, Gatling Gatherings, and general Mad Minutes from the members of the shooting community, as well as long range shooting competitions. Just people exercising their Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
Such gatherings predate recorded history. In every society we have a record of, we have evidence of their martial training and sports, as they kept their young men prepared to defend their countries, or to go out and conquer other lands. The older men kept their trophies of wars and adventures- they always have. I suppose someone could point out a society where such things didn’t exist, but I will bet it was short-lived, having been absorbed by more martial neighbors as they rampaged around. Nice little Utopia while it lasted… to bad they couldn’t defend themselves, I would say to the peaceniks who might bring it up. I guess I have a closed mind on the subject- you have to be able to defend yourself and your loved ones, as well as your country.
There will always be bad guys, and sometimes that is just a matter of perspective. No matter, you still have to be able to defend yourself, or “You Lose”.
On the flip side, there are millions of good guys out there right now, doing it for real, in uniform. Many have no inkling of where their Freedom came from, modern public education’s revisionist bent to blame. It never ceases to amaze me how many members of our military will say “Only the military should have weapons”. Amazing lack of perception, although, I suspect it is understandable with the current “Peace keeping” craze. When you have to keep various small cultures from killing off each other’s families, you might start to think it prudent to disarm everyone who doesn’t “Need” a weapon- meaning the “Peace keeping” forces.
If you dig deeper, however, you will find a core of people who have a different experience. American soldiers who served from the Vietnam War backwards, had experience with seeing “Refugees”, in long time situations. In particular, many World War II veterans will still quietly talk today about the shambles Europe was in, and how the people lost everything- they couldn’t defend themselves.
This perception is the flip side of the same coin. Many of our troops in Afghanistan are fighting against men who own their personal AK47- they bought it, they clean it, they feed it. I do not think them to be the Freedom Fighters which they consider themselves- Holy Warriors as it were. Presently, they are the enemy.
The example here is one to remember, however, in that the prudent man is always aware of how to defend himself. I hope that our young men and women who view this situation do not misread it and say that guns in the hands of the public are bad- but that they understand the freedom to own firearms and weapons has neither a good effect or a bad effect on its own. It is what you do with them. It is what the people who own the weapons are like.
When one society decides to murder the innocents in another society, well, they are going to pay the consequences of that action. At least, if we maintain the resolve and the force necessary, they will pay.
Then, another generation of Americans will come home, and hang their odd memorabilia on the wall, or put it in a photo album, or, perhaps keep it out of sight unless they meet others who were there. It’s all their choice. I do hope, however, that they join the rest of us at the sandpit, at the local shooting range, and at the events we gather at. They will be welcomed.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V5N10 (July 2002)|